DRC declares end of Ebola epidemic

Health workers carry a coffin containing a victim of Ebola virus

Health workers carry a coffin containing a victim of Ebola virus on May 16, 2019 in Butembo.

Photo credit: File | AFP

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has declared an end to the latest Ebola outbreak, 50 days after the last case was confirmed in the country.

A declaration issued by Congolese Health Minister, Dr Eteni Longodo, said the country’s 11th epidemic in 44 years is over, but warned against complacency given previous history where new cases sprouted just weeks after an epidemic was declared over. 

The latest outbreak, mainly in Equateur Provice, had killed 55 people out of 138 cases reported, a fatality rate of 42 per cent, Dr Longodo told journalists in Mbandaka.

Under the World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, an Ebola epidemic is declared over if 42 days pass without a single case being reported. However, authorities must maintain surveillance for the another six months to be absolutely sure.

In DR Congo, this kind of wait has often been broken at the 11th hour. On June 25, WHO reported an end to the tenth outbreak in North Kivu which had begun on August 1, 2018. It was the second largest outbreak in the world and responders faced difficulties because it attacked villages in a conflict zone.

After 22 months, the WHO reported 3,470 cases, 2,287 deaths and 1,171 survivors. But the celebration was shortlived as another epidemic emerged in Equateur.

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